While we were in Ecuador a few months back, we were fortunate enough to spend a good amount of time in the nation’s capital, Quito. Quito is a city of over 2.6 million people, and is as diverse and vibrant as any I have been to.
In Ecuador, motorcycles are a very popular form of transportation for many of reasons.
First and foremost being that it is cheaper than a car. When money is scarce and transportation is mandatory, you will always find people riding motorcycles. Another reason is the convenience.
In Quito, motorcycles split lanes, skip traffic jams, even ride up onto the sidewalks.
The police are on motorcycles, the pizza delivery guy is on a motorcycle, everyone who needs to efficiently get where they are going is on a motorcycle.
With this said you may think that motorcycle related businesses are everywhere in Quito. However, you would be incorrect in this assumption.
There are repair shops here and there, but not too much that actually encompasses a love of motorcycles or any passion for riding them.
There was one total exception to this that we came across in Quito.
That is La Ruta, a small motorcycle shop, museum, and cafe in downtown Quito.
We were walking down the street after a late lunch on our first day in Quito trying to find our way back to the small hotel that we were staying at. Along the way, we passed a building that quite literally had motorcycles hanging in the windows.
We couldn’t help but stop and check it out.
It looked like a cool and chill place to hang out, but on top of that, they had motorcycle everything.
There were old bikes on display, newer bikes for sale, a buzzing repair shop next door, and friendly people to greet us. We were instantly entertained and excited to have found a place where some people
were clearly as passionate about bikes as we are.
We immediately were approached by a gentleman named Fernando who was more than happy to show us around and who spoke English very well. This place is Fernando’s creation. He is the man with the passion that drives La Ruta, and it shows when you have the pleasure of speaking with him.
Fernando comes from a moto family. His father graces the walls of his cafe in pictures of races and rallies across Ecuador in the 70’s and 80’s. In an article on the wall in the cafe.
We saw that his father, Lucio Sanchez, won the first cross country motorcycle race in Ecuador in 1982.
I’m not the greatest at the Spanish language, but I will include a picture of the article for your own interpretation. Needless to say, we had found a very, very cool place to hang out.
Fernando served us some ice cold cervezas and showed us around the place, which made us the three happiest dudes in town.
He had a beautiful 1952 AutoMoto motorcycle that was in absolutely pristine condition in his front lobby area.
AutoMoto was a French bicycle and motorcycle manufacturer that started in 1902, was bought by Peugeot in 1930 and ceased to exist in 1962. I asked Fernando what he thought it was worth and he said he had no idea… didn’t care. That’s the right answer in my book!
There were so many awesome bikes in this place.
Every room he led us to had more bikes and more stories. It was almost like we were dreaming. He had old Hondas, Suzukis, BMWs, BSAs, even Harleys. You name it, Fernando has one at La Ruta, most of them still waiting to shine as they once did.
I loved the fact that worlds away from each other, we were basically into the exact same stuff for the exact same reasons.
We started talking about the cost of this moto addiction that we both obviously have, and we quickly saw some differences.
As we discussed prices of old classic motorcycles it became apparent that they were almost three times the price in Ecuador.
With dollar signs in my eyes, I began to tell Fernando all about how we could become rich if I just buy old bikes off of Craigslist here in the states and ship them down to him.
Unfortunately, my dreams were crushed as soon as we started discussing.
Something that great doesn’t just go unnoticed and the reasons no one else was doing it are quite obvious.
It turns out that you can not legally import used motorcycles to Ecuador for resale.
In fact, if you want anything that’s not available from a dealer in Ecuador you basically need to ride it there, and even then you are not permitted to resell it.
The red tape was a million miles long and I realized that my get-rich-quick idea was a total fail.
At the end of the day, La Ruta was easily one of the coolest places I got to visit during my time in Ecuador.
If you ever happen to find your way to Quito, you are doing yourself a great disservice if you do not stop in to see Fernando.
Top notch people, great coffee, cold beer, and fantastic stories to go along with the beautiful memorabilia.
I was happy to stop in there 2 or 3 times more over the course of our stay and it is at the top of the list for whenever I make it back to that great city.
I wish La Ruta great success as they grow and build on this awesome concept.
Thanks for reading, and as always, Long May You Ride.